Science Videos – Watch a diseased cell die!

video-webI have previously written about “Internet Videos on Cancer” and  “Internet Videos on Cancer-More Videos” (yes, yes, not the most imaginative titles, I know!). One that I don’t think I’ve mentioned is “Apoptosis and Signal Transduction” by WEHI-TV. WEHI is the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne Australia, and they create 3D medical animations. These are computer simulations of events that happen inside cells, remember these aren’t actual videos, they are computer generated (a bit like Toy Story, Bugs Life or Shrek). The animations are stunning and are based on actual experiments (e.g. experiments to measure protein structure or single molecule experiments). One of the animators is Drew Barry, you’ll find an interview with him at SEED magazine.

My favourite is “Apoptosis and Signal Transduction“, you can see it at the WEHI website (you’ll need Quicktime) or on YouTube (you’ll need Flash). So what is apoptosis? it is a way that both normal and cancer cells die and are removed from your body. Your body does this all the time without you even knowing. The video shows a ligand (e.g. Fas-Ligand) binding to a receptor (Fas receptor), this recruits other proteins which activate Caspases. Caspases are proteins that cleave (chew up and break) other proteins.  The next part of the video shows a different part of the apoptopic cascade, where cytochrome c activates the “apoptosome”, a large “molecular machine”  (a molecular machine means lots of protein molecules that join together to carry out a specific mechanical job in the cell, in this case turning on caspase 3  to break up proteins).

You can see more science animations at molecularmovies.org, some are better than others, but the site is well worth a look. I will be teaching this weekend and plan on using several in my tutorials. What do you think?  Do these animations help you understand the science or do they just confuse you?

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